Celebrating Experts in Human Aspects of Cyber Security: Keri Pearlson

On the International Women's Day many websites suddenly remember that women as well as representatives of other underrepresented groups are doing cool work in different fields, posting lists and summaries. In contract to the convention, at CyberBitsEtc, we decided to provide an in-depth view on the life and achievement of 5 inspirational women throughout this week, not only giving you links to follow, but explaining why these women are awesome and why they do groundbreaking work (with references to their talks, books, and articles!).

I have not seen these women on any power lists, which, in my own personal view is really unfair. They are unsung heroes, who help us get one step closer to understanding behavioural aspects of cyber security. This is not a ranking of any kind and it is heavily skewed towards my personal interests in cyber security. However, these are scholars and practitioners, whose work I can recommend to read, follow and admire. Because these women are worth it! And they are worth it not because they are women, they are worth it because they are really best at what they do.

Today's spotlight is on Keri Pearlson!

Keri Pearlson is the Executive Director of the Cybersecurity at MIT Sloan: the Interdisciplinary Consortium for Improving Critical Infrastructure Cybersecurity (IC)3 at the MIT Sloan School of Management. Keri has held positions in academia and industry including Babson College, The University of Texas at Austin, Gartner’s Research Board, CSC, and AT&T. She founded KP Partners, a CIO advisory services firm and the IT Leaders’ Forum, a community of next generation IT executives. She is also the founding director of the Analytics Leadership Consortium at the International Institute of Analytics. Keri holds a Doctorate in Business Administration (DBA) in Management Information Systems from Harvard Business School, as well as an MS in Industrial Engineering and BS in Mathematics from Stanford. She is the founding president of the Austin Society for Information Management (SIM) and the 2014 National SIM Leader of the Year. In 2020, Keri was named as one of the top women in cyber security by the SC Magazine. Here is a recent brief video introducing Keri and some of her work:

Keri Pearlson began her career at Hughes Aircraft Company as a systems analyst. Her research spans Management Information Systems, business strategy, and organizational design. Her current research studies how organizations build a culture of cyber security and how organizations build trust to share mitigations for cyber breaches. She is the coauthor of Managing and Using Information: A Strategic Approach 6thed and of Zero Time: Providing Instant Customer Value. Her work has been published in the MIT Sloan Management Review, The Academy of Management Executive, Information Resources Management Journal, and Harvard Business Publishing.

Keri's work concentrates on understanding human and organizational culture in cyber security domain. She has written extensively on this topic. The great thing about Keri's research (and this is something that keeps many people, including myself, so excited about what she does) is that she manages not only to produce valuable scientific insights, but also has a fantastic talent in making her research results accessible to practitioners. She is one of those people, who can take super complicated technical concept and translate it into a very simple visual model, which anybody can understand and relate to. If you want to lean more about Keri's work as well as understand how to create the blueprint to build a cybersecurity culture in your organization, read her papers! I provide several suggestions below, but do check out her Google Scholar Page for an extensive list: